Jonesboro, Arkansas (Tornado) / 1,700 Meals Over 2 Days

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado ripped through Jonesboro, Arkansas with winds up to 140 mph. The tornado was on the ground for 10-20 miles.

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From the Heart – March 2020

Nashville, Tennessee (Tornado) / 120,780 Meals Over 8 Days

On March 3, severe storms and at least one tornado slammed through central Tennessee. Initial surveys indicated EF-3 tornado damage.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the organizers and volunteers at Operation BBQ Relief for their generous contributions to our community as we recover and rebuild after the devastating March 3rd tornado,” said John Cooper, Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. “In times of hardship, Nashvillians have always been able to count on the support of our neighbors and friends. A hot meal, a warm smile, and a kind word can make a world of difference to those who are working to rebuild their homes and their communities.”

Operation BBQ Relief was fortunate to have the Tennessee Titans organization allow us to set up the command center outside Nissan Stadium.  For eight straight days, Operation BBQ Relief cooked BBQ around the clock and provided 60,780 hot BBQ meals and donated another 60,000 uncooked meals to the city of Nashville and surrounding communities. Thank you to all our donors and volunteers that helped further our efforts to provide the healing power of BBQ.

New Head of Volunteer Services

Operation BBQ Relief is pleased to announce Brian Polak as the new Head of Volunteer Services, effective February 22, 2020.  Brian’s responsibilities include developing and managing all aspects of volunteer engagement and coordination, including strategies to encourage new or increased volunteerism, standard operating procedures for volunteer management tasks, and more.  As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Brian brings over 20 years of project management experience to OBR.

Brian Polak has supported Operation BBQ Relief in one way or another since its inception in 2011.  After his first deployment to Washington, Illinois, following a 2013 tornado, Brian was determined to do more for the organization.  Brian always wears his OBR gear with pride and eagerly launches into his elevator pitch at the first inquiry of “What’s Operation BBQ Relief?”  As a KCBS Master Judge and competition Pitmaster for Designated Smokin’ Area, Brian always takes advantage of having captive audiences at BBQ competitions to be the quintessential OBR Ambassador.

Brian has served as the Illinois State Lead and later Territory 3 Director, where he worked to develop OBR fundraising opportunities at local BBQ competitions and retail events and served as Site Lead for the 2015 Kirkland/Fairdale deployment in Illinois. He then moved on to become the Director of Volunteer Management in 2017.  In that role he honed the process and tools for getting volunteers registered with Operation BBQ Relief and signed up for events.

Brian is a Sr. Program Manager at AT&T.  He is also a United States Army Veteran, where he worked military intelligence in Germany.  Brian and his wife of 21 years, Laurie, live in Carol Stream, IL, with their two Beagles.  They have two sons, Sean Dwyer (26) and Eric Dwyer (25), who also live in the area.

Join us in congratulating Brian on his new position!

From the Heart – February 2020

OBR Organizational Changes

From the Heart – January 2020

From the Heart – End of Year 2019

Decaturville, Tennessee (Tornado) / 3,250 Meals Over 2 Days

Powerful storms with straight line winds and flooding rains swept through Tennessee on October 26th, 2019. Many residents had to go to shelters, and those who could remain home were left without power and dealing with storm damage. The American Red Cross of Tennessee reached out to Operation BBQ
Relief for assistance with providing hot meals to those in need.

Deploying a local team and working out of our Memphis warehouse, we provided the healing power of BBQ 3250 times over 2 days throughout McNairy and Decatur Counties. Our food was distributed to shelters and to many communities by both American Red Cross mobile feeding vehicles and by OBR
Volunteers, ensuring impacted residents, First Responders, and volunteers received the One Hot Meal That Matters.

Petaluma, California (Fire) / 200 Meals Over 1 Day

Seasonal winds fanned the flames of wildfires across California vegetation dried out due to delayed Fall rains. The Kincade Fire was the largest of the 2019 California wildfires, burning over 77,000 acres. When mandatory evacuations around Sonoma County, CA, were put in place, OBR was asked to come
help feed those impacted.

We immediately deployed a local team to Petaluma, CA, where we fed 200 hot meals to impacted residents in shelters and to First Responders. Within 24 hours, firefighters were able to improve containment enough that the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office lifted some and downgraded other evacuation orders in connection with the Kincade Fire, allowing residents to go back to their homes.

This deployment was a great reminder that regardless of the number of days deployed or the total number of meals provided, it's all about providing the One Hot Meal that Matters.